Troubled and overworked by what they are calling disjointed resources and a lack of structure in carrying out national educational standards, upward of 100 Santa Barbara Unified School District teachers turned out at Tuesday night’s board meeting to request that the district reinstate the monthly Curriculum Council teacher meetings that were eliminated during 2007’s budget crunch.
Teachers in the packed boardroom stood up as Karen McBride, an 8th-grade social studies teacher and chair of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association organizing team, delivered the union’s one-page resolution. “Teachers must have a voice in curriculum and resources,” she read before running through a list of concerns, including poor prioritizing on the district’s part and that teachers, without foundational support, often spend personal time and money developing disparate lesson plans. A reestablishment of Curriculum Council, teachers contend, would help them pilot and vet teaching material and essentially operate from the same wheelhouse district-wide. As McBride’s testimony was delivered during a general public-comment period and not as an agendized item, boardmembers were not required to respond. They didn’t.
The district and the union continue to lock horns over salaries as collective bargaining has again reached an impasse. Negotiations were bound for a state-appointed mediator last month, but the Public Employment Relations Board instead sent both sides back to the table. After another brief round, the union again declared an impasse, on February 2, when the district stood by its offer to bump salaries 2 percent retroactively and another 2 percent this coming July. The union wants a 6 percent raise, retroactive to July 1, 2015. Both sides did agree to tentative language that brings more fairness and confidentially to a special account to help teachers on catastrophic sick leave.